Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Singer's Review

By Nigel Tucker

It is always a pleasure to sing in a such a complex work as the Bach Mass in B Minor. The piece holds technical challenges, glorious rhythmic interplay and wonderful soaring passages. But more importantly it demands attention to detail, to the conductor and to the rest of the choir.

In the end we achieved much. All those fiddly fugal parts, which can so easily fall apart, we sang with assurance. The slow sonorous 'Et Incarnatus Est' and 'Crucixifus' were well held and sustained, and the choir seemed at all times well balanced with the orchestra.

Yes, we were a little weak on some of the entries, more due to lack of confidence than technical skill, and the choir did not always watch the conductor sufficiently often to keep well in time (as usual) - especially the basses who got way ahead once and several times wandered along a bit behind everyone else.

The orchestral solo lines were spectacular - the flute, the trumpets, the oboes, the french horn (so that was what David was imitating all those months), and that lovely bassoon - I'd buy a recording just to hear those again.

If I had any complaints, they would have to be a loss of phrasing and dynamics that we had developed so well at rehearsal and lost at performance - quiet movements are so very effective and beautiful - like the 'Dona Nobis Pacem'. The Mass is a piece that demands huge attention to this - otherwise it can descend into a morass of fiddly little notes. As a choir we perhaps need to view the actual performance as one more dress rehearsal. And secondly the text. Bach requires such a high level of rhythmic accuracy and enunciation that these become a huge challenge for larger choirs with many singing voices in each part, and a considerable distance from the conductor, so that the sound for each note spreads out and blurs in music that owes much of its beauty from a tight clock-like precision.

The audience loved it, we loved it, and the orchestra, some of whom seem to have really boring parts, seemed to enjoy themselves. We were well prepared and well turned out and produced a great sound. Well done, Choir - three cheers for live performances and the joy of working together in such a great piece.

No comments: